"In masks outrageous and austere
The years go by in single file;
But none has merited my fear,
And none has quite escaped my smile."
When I was young, I moved fast. I had people to see, places to go. I had important stuff to do. Once I stopped going places, and seeing people, and doing important stuff, well, I didn’t just stop being important, I stopped being fast.
Once, my reactions were so quick they seemed like coincidences. What I lacked in grace I made up in speed. Now, I move with the great deliberation of the unbalanced, the elderly, or the very wise. I’m still ungraceful, and I’m not very wise, so you see my situation. My reactions today were in the kind of movie slow motion you see when bridges blow up and the action hero leaps from the runaway train as it tips into the ravine, with blazing guns in each hand (the hero, not the train) and lands on his feet, perfectly balanced on the precipice.
I cleaned the waterfall today, and in the process, I fell in. Nothing seriously wounded, not even pride. Just one of those falls, like a giant sequoia in a primordial forest, pulling surrounding trees down in its wake.
I was standing atop the big rock in the middle of the falls, tearing out green goddess lilies, toad lilies and some nasty grass-like mat that had virtually swallowed the big rock. I had abandoned my shoes, and the water was only mildly cool, and I was perfectly balanced, and I moved one foot, and I reached slowly out, and I grabbed the last clump of stems, and I knew in a blinding flash there would be no stopping me. I was going down.
I had time to consider several options, to discard each in turn, and to consider the best way to twist and lean so my butt hit the big rock instead of my hip. I made a lovely splash as I slid down the rock and landed in the muck and roots at the bottom. Not exactly perfectly balanced, but more or less upright. I did however, hold on to the damned clump of stems.
I raised my clenched and muddy fist full of gooey brown toad lily leaves, and raised my face to the sky, and I shouted defiantly, “As God is my witness, I’ll never go hungry again!”